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Clean Feet, Dirty World

Turning your feet from evil

Proverbs 6:16, 18

16 These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,


There is a little song that I am certain you know. You have sung it a thousand times to your own children, or as a Sunday school teacher. Little ones love it, for it is simple, catchy and focuses on the one thing that they are truly fascinated with, their body:

O be careful little eyes what you see
O be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love
So, be careful little eyes what you see

Admit, it–you have the tune in your head again, after all of these years.

The book of Proverbs is much like this song, in a way. It is a collection of ancient wisdom, including the inspired words of Solomon, who sought only wisdom as his gift from a loving God, whom he had honored (I Kings 4:29-34). As such, compiled and intended to teach the young of Israel, Proverbs is a children’s textbook–and filled with learning aids that include the body.

Such as a list of abominations that God abhors: A proud look…a lying tongue…hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:16-17).  

Which brings you to verse 18:

18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,–Proverbs 6:18

You have already considered your heart, and now it is to your feet that Solomon brings your attention. Like another verse in the little song: 

O be careful little feet where you go
O be careful little feet where you go
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love
So, be careful little feet where you go

Where have your feet taken you in this life? It is certain you have found yourself in some evil places, or at least some evil situations. You may have avoided the “red light district” or various dens of iniquity, but I am willing to bet that you have gone willingly or unwittingly into relationships, friendships, or even self-imposed traps that brought nothing but harm and allowed your sinful nature to rule. 

The foolishness of unguided feet will take you only deeper into sin and away from Christ. 

God hates one whom allows selfish desires to propel him into pursuing only what he wants in life, with little or no regard to the Father’s commands or the words of the Son. 

Such a life can only lead to more self-focus, and the ultimate end is death, beginning with death in the heart. The more a heart turns inward, the stronger the grip of sin will tighten. Sinful habits change from things to be overcome to things that are entertained, or even excuses given to justify their continued growth. With this comes suffering, for yourself and those around you. As Pastor David Linden writes: 

Evil deeds come from evil thoughts. Sin does not just happen; often it is planned. It festers in the heart, and appears when opportunity strikes. The result is destruction, not merely for the sinner and his victim, but of the order and peace of the community; everyone suffers.-David Linden

Feet that are swift to evil, are feet that are continuously walking toward wickedness. After a while, all plans, thoughts and impulses are taken over. 

Hundreds of years after Solomon penned these words, the prophet Isaiah echoed them in his cries to Israel, as they had forgotten God in their selfish pursuits 

7 Their feet run to evil,
And they make haste to shed innocent blood;
Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
Wasting and destruction are in their paths.–Isaiah 59:7 

Soon, the wandering feet of Israel would lead them to destruction and exile in a foreign land. A people enslaved once again–because of their desire to stray from God, the One who had led them out of Egypt so long ago.

If your feet are running, or are swift to evil, it may mean that you physically place yourself in harms way. This can be subtle, or extreme, depending on your choices and life situation. 

I knew a woman whose former husband had been a frequenter of prostitutes. He would look for excuses to be downtown late, or purposely drive out of his way to be tempted by these locations. Finally, he was arrested for solicitation, and his excuse to his wife was that he was simply “trying to help” the woman with whom he had been caught. He felt sorry for her, see, caught in that lifestyle and all… 

He attempted to portray himself as compassionate and a victim of circumstance–and not his own lust. She did not buy it, of course. The sad thing is, deep down, the man likely believed his own lie. 

Perhaps your feet run to sin emotionally or mentally. To what are your thoughts constantly bent? Are you frequently concerned with self-preservation or making sure the “safe” status quo of the life you have arranged remains undisturbed? Are you continually scheming and planning ways to better yourself, even in ways that are at the expense of others? You may not even realize this, because like the philandering husband above, you may make excuses to yourself on why your actions are justified. 

There is a humorous scene in the old John Wayne movie, “Cahill, US Marshall.” The Duke has apprehended two wanted men and, after roughing them up a bit, holds them at gunpoint. They have the temerity to complain of the ill treatment, despite their own murderous intent, not long before. To which the lawman replies: 

You call the tune and you pay the piper. Meaning... you don't like the treatment, don't rob the banks.-John Wayne “Cahill, US Marshall”

See the clip HERE Warning: critical levels of toxic masculinity

This is a play on the old adage “he who pays the piper, calls the tune.” Only this is a tune they do not like.

Because of your sinful nature, you can easily fall into these patterns. For the unbeliever, it is natural to do so. For you, you must realize that where your feet are placed in this life can have deadly–or blessed–consequences. Puritan Thomas Brooks, in his sharp little book “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices” strikes a chord in this song:  

The best course to prevent falling into the pit is to keep at the greatest distance from it; he who will be so bold as to attempt to dance upon the brink of the pit, may find by woeful experience that it is a righteous thing with God that he should fall into the pit.-Thomas Brooks

To avoid the deadly consequences of sin and temptation can sometimes mean taking your feet physically in the opposite direction! 

Are there people in your life who actively tempt you to sin? Are there sinful habits you entertain from which you should flee? With each of these, you must flee to Christ, who guides and guards you. 

The psalmist who knows that it is not by his own strength, but but the will and strength of the God who protects and sustains Israel:

3 He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.–Psalm 121:3-4 

Can you see how your feet often take you down dark and winding paths? Never forget that you have a mighty Protector who can keep you on the right road. This is part of the discipline that you are called to live as a believer, the daily dying to self and living in God:

13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.–Romans 6:13  

Like the Heidelberg Catechism says in the very first question, “What is your only comfort in life and death?” The answer: “That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” 

When it comes to turning your feet from evil, the realization that you are not your own will not only bring the consequences of sin into sharp relief, you will realize the price that was paid and the depth of love that has been shown you. Once you see this, then you will understand the dying to self that is required is not a hardship, but the way of love. As Jesus tells you:

25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.–Matthew 16:25 

To repent and turn from sinful paths is to avoid the death that it will bring–but also to find lasting joy in Christ. For in Him, doing without the empty promises of "the world, the flesh, and the devil (I John 2:16)” only opens more room for His boundless love. This world, for all its fleeting pleasures and promises of fulfillment, ultimately offers you nothing:

36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?–Mark 8:36

There is a terrific song by artist Toby Mac called “Lose my Soul” that hits this over and over in its life-filled refrain:

Everything that I see draws me
Though it's only in You that I can truly see
That its a feast for the eyes - a low blow to purpose
And I'm a little kid at a three ring circus–Toby Mac, “Lose my Soul” (2007)

To turn your feet from evil, is to remember your purpose. What IS your purpose in this life? To follow your own impulses? Or to follow the King? As olympian Eric Liddell remarked about his desire to run and to honor God:  

I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure.–Eric Liddell 

This, too, is your purpose: to run far from evil and feel your Father’s pleasure.  

As Gregory of Nazianzus, who lived in the 4th century, writes: 

It is good for the feet that they be not swift to shed blood or to run to evil, but that they be prompted to run to the gospel and the prize of the high calling, and to receive Christ, who washes and cleanses them.–Gregory of Nazianzus, “On Holy Baptism”

Jesus, in the upper room, became the embodiment of servanthood as he took up the basin and towel to wash His disciples feet. He washes your dirty, sinful feet, for by His own blood Jesus has paid the price for you.  

Think on the ways that your feet may be swift to evil. Then place those feet in His nail-scarred hands, for He takes them gently and washes them clean to prepare you for the clean path that leads into eternity. 




The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

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